The Spat Between Ed Davis, Minority Officers Association Reaches a Boil

Davis writes an open letter and MAMLEO responds.

An angry spat between Police Commissioner Ed Davis and a minority police officer’s association over fairness in promotions and discipline is escalating.

Davis took to the Boston Police Department Facebook, Twitter, and website on Monday evening to fire at the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers, which last month called on Davis to resign for promoting white officers over black ones. MAMLEO rejected Davis’s points, and further questioned Davis’s decision to take his case to social media, hoping both sides could carry on the discussion in another “forum.”

In “An Open Letter to the Community On Diversity in the Police Department,” Davis wrote he wanted to “set the record straight” about “misinformation about the Department’s commitment to diversity.”

MAMLEO last month called for Davis to resign and vowed to oppose any mayoral candidates who backed him. Five of the 12 candidates support keeping him as commissioner.

MAMLEO contends Davis promotes white officers over black ones and that black officers are more harshly disciplined than white ones. President Larry Ellison ticks off a recent incident where five white officers were promoted to supervisor positions while candidates of color with the same test scores on the civil service test were not immediately promoted. (Davis quickly ordered the promotion of two more black officers.) There’s also the rapid demotion of Det. Jerome Hall-Brewster, a black officer, for failing to previously arrest the alleged murderer of Amy Lord.

Davis said his priority is to have “the Department’s diverse workforce reflect the best in the community.” He noted the uniformed force is already 44 percent minority and also pointed out his command staff is the most diverse in BPD history, 42 percent minority.

Davis added he’s used his discretion to promote minorities and women officers to the elite units, which include: drug control, youth violence strike force, homicide, and K-9. “Critics have attempted to misrepresent these facts and twist the truth,” Davis said.

MAMELO, though, is not alone. Mayoral candidate Mike Ross, for one, has said he’s disappointed in the diversity of BPD’s upper management, and specifically cited the lack of women in leadership roles in Monday night’s mayoral debate.

Davis blamed the civil service process that “does not truly measure the “qualities necessary for supervisory promotions.

“It is no secret; there are few minority candidates at the top of the civil service lists—and until now, little was being done about it.”

The city has aside $2.2 million to overhaul the tests and “give minority officers an equal opportunity at promotion.” It is scheduled to be rolled out in 2014.

In returning fire, MAMLEO’s Ellison charged Davis’s numbers were deceiving. The 42 percent figure Davis cites reflects assistant bureau chiefs, not bureau chiefs.

Your administration…does not have anyone of color as a Bureau Chief. All the Deputies you tout do not command their respective Bureaus. The only Superintendent you have appointed is William Gross and he is a night-superintendent who is extremely popular with the troops and the community.

Ellison, who said his group has tried to make its case to Davis for years, also pointed out racial disparity in how officers are assigned.

The South End has approximately 130 officers assigned to it with less than 2% minority, while Jamaica Plain is the complete opposite comprised of mostly Hispanic officers. MAMLEO hardly believes this to be a coincidence.

Davis closed by saying he would “continue to work to improve the Department and to earn your trust every day.” The commissioner said he’ll be on Twitter on Sept. 12th to continue the discussion and the search for solutions—though he didn’t say what time. Spokeswoman Cheryl Fiandaca did not respond immediately.